Nut so simple

The list of food products with names including the word "simple" continues to grow. At Nature Valley, there are now two kinds of Simple Nut Bars, not to be confused with that brand's two Roasted Nut Crunch Bars and two Nut Crisp bars. Like other "simple" products, the new bars have relatively few ingredients, almost all of which are recognizable as food.

Both the roasted peanut and honey version of the Simple Nut Bar and the almond, cashew and sea salt version are described on the front of the box as "Made of nuts, seeds, honey, tapioca syrup & sea salt." And, indeed, the official ingredients list of the roasted peanut and honey version has two more items only because it lists which nuts (roasted peanuts and roasted almonds) and it notes the sunflower oil that's part of the roasted sunflower seeds.

By contrast, the Nature Valley Salted Caramel Peanut Nut Crisp bar lists 15 ingredients, five of which are at least as unfamiliar as tapioca syrup.

Two things are not obvious about the new bars. First, the honey-based bars are sticky, but eating them from the wrapper removes that issue. Second, they are, of course, more expensive. At one store, the 5.34-ounce box of six Nut Crisp Bars was $3.19 (60 cents an ounce); at that store the 4.68-ounce box of four (larger) Simple Nut Bars was $3.29 (70 cents an ounce).

Perhaps subjective but worth mentioning: Mr. Tidbit thought the Nut Crisp Bar had lots more flavor than the Simple Nut Bar.

Torta totals

New from Bertolli, maker of pasta sauces, oils, vinegars and frozen meals for two, comes a set of frozen meals for one, in two categories. There are five Rustica Bakes (example: Chicken Parmigiana & Penne) and two Tortas (potpies in pastry shells): Italian Sausage and Three Cheese Marinara. Just for fun, Mr. Tidbit picked up the Italian Sausage Torta and looked at the nutrition panel. The 10-ounce pie weighs in at 720 calories and 44 grams of fat (68 percent of the daily value for fat and the exact equivalent of eating half a stick of butter), of which 19 grams are saturated fat (that's a stunning 95 percent of the daily value).

Al Sicherman